Elmo F. Gentes, 90, died March 18, 2016 at his home in Bloomington, IL.
A funeral service is being held at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington on Tuesday, March 22, at 11:00 a.m. with visitation an hour before at 10:00 a.m. at the church. Pastors Christine McNeal and Carl-Eric Gentes will officiate. Interment will be at the Chenoa Cemetery in Chenoa. Memorials may be given to St. John’s Lutheran Capital Improvement Fund or Home Sweet Home Mission in Bloomington in lieu of flowers. Beck Memorial Home has been entrusted with the arrangements.
Elmo Frederick Gentes was born February 1, 1926 in Chenoa, IL to Calvin and Inez Brumm Gentes. At the age of 10, Elmo lost his only sibling, older brother George, in a car-train accident. His grandmother bought a vibraharp for him after this tragedy which he learned to play well and provided wedding music for many weddings in churches that did not have a keyboard instrument as well as recitals and entertainment at local club meetings and social events. He attended school in Chenoa graduating from Chenoa High School in 1944 where he enjoyed participating on the basketball team, sang in the chorus and played drums in the band. He attended Illinois State Normal University and graduated in 1948 with a major in Business Education and a minor in Music Education.
In June of 1947, Elmo met Joan Heins one morning on the Bloomington City Bus and proposed in November of that year. They were married on July 24, 1948 after he graduated from ISNU and before he took his first job as a school teacher in Leroy, IL teaching bookkeeping, general business, chorus, band, and Driver Education. In 1950, he moved on to teach music and serve as high school principal at LaRose, IL. He had spent two summers attending the University of Illinois pursuing a Master of Science in Educational Administration which he completed in 1950.
In 1952, Elmo entered the College Trainee program in Management Development at State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. He had been a part-time State Farm agent in his uncle John Heins’ agency in Chenoa from 1945-1951. He worked full-time for State Farm from 1952 until his retirement in 1985. His position at that time was Assistant Vice-President – Service and Systems. One of his proudest moments was being tapped to formulate the new Monthly Pay Plan in 1963-64 in collaboration with Bob Bischoff and President Edward Rust, Sr. He introduced the payment plan company-wide over several years traveling coast to coast to all of the regional offices to instruct the agents in the use of this new marketing tool.
He was a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington for 62 years beginning in 1954. He served in many leadership roles to include treasurer and trustee, as well as with the stewardship and building campaigns as the congregation grew and ministries prospered.
Elmo served as State Treasurer of the Illinois Junior Chamber of Conference from 1958-60, Board of Directors of Lutheran Welfare Services of Illinois (now Lutheran Social Services of Illinois) from 1970-78, Administrative Management Society Board of Directors, 1977-79, and Westminster Village, Inc. founding President and Board Member, 1980-1986. During his presidency, the residential center of the village reached 90% occupancy and the health center reached and maintained optimum occupancy. Under Elmo’s leadership, the Village completed significant improvements in buildings, equipment and grounds and achieved financial stability.
Elmo was a 67 year 32nd degree Mason in the Bloomington Scottish Rite and served in the Novat Unit of the Mohammed Shrine of Peoria for many years.
Elmo thoroughly enjoyed the game of golf. He was an excellent Bridge player and loved to play virtually any card game anyone was ready to play. He also was a diehard Chicago Cubs fan his entire life.
Elmo is survived by his wife of 67 years Joan, their children George (Kathleen) Gentes, Schaumburg, IL, Gerald (Gretchen Snow) Gentes, Bloomington, and Ruth Ann (Carl-Michal) Krawczyk, Green Valley, AZ; four grandsons, Aaron Gentes, Schaumburg, IL, Carl-Eric (Rachel) Gentes, Rochester, MN, Joel (Alison Meier) Gentes, San Francisco, CA, and Jeffrey (Emily) Gentes, Glendale Heights, IL. and three great grandchildren, Mae and Jude Gentes, and Rhodes Gentes.